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Drinking in pregnancy

The safest approach is not to drink at all while you’re expecting. Find out more about the effects of alcohol on your baby.

Is it safe to drink while pregnant?

The new UK Government guidelines advise that if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all.

Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink, the greater the risk.

What are the effects of alcohol on your baby?

When you drink while pregnant, the alcohol passes from your blood, through the placenta and into your baby’s blood. A baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and doesn’t mature until the latter stages of pregnancy. Your baby cannot process alcohol as well as you, and so it can seriously affect their development.

Drinking in the first three months of pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage as well as premature birth and low birth weight.

If you drink after the first three months of your pregnancy, it may affect your baby after they’re born. The effects can include learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

Drinking heavily throughout pregnancy can cause your baby to develop a serious condition called foetal alcohol syndrome, which leads to poor growth, facial abnormalities, as well as learning and behavioural problems.

More information

If you’re concerned about the risks of alcohol to your baby, speak with your doctor or midwife. You’ll also find more information online through the NHS.

To find out more about foetal alcohol syndrome, visit the NHS or get in touch with the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome-UK.